Mining and oil and gas developments are highly profitable but if managed poorly, cause serious damage to landscapes and communities. Areas surrounding extraction sites suffer from erosion, soil and water contamination, and loss of biodiversity. Pollution coming from waste negatively affects the health of local populations. A large percentage of mining is located in developing countries, where workers often lack proper gear and operate in unsafe working environments; some digging with their bare hands. Moreover, continuous enhaling of poisonous emissions causes lung diseases.
Mining worldwide is growing to keep up with increasing prices and demand. It is predicted that global annual resource extraction will triple by 2050.
Examples of damage caused by extractive industries are endless. Blasting the banks of the gold-bearing Amazon river has caused irreversible damage to trees, birds and animals. Contaminated tailings and discharges from the giant Ok Tedi gold mine in Papua New Guinea have impacted around 50,000 people in 120 nearby villages socially and environmentally. Fish in the river became inedible; the mining dump changed the river bed causing disruptions in water flow.
Canada is planning to send raw bitumen, a tarry oil substance, across the Pacific Ocean to China. Both extraction and processing require tremendous inputs of water and energy, and impact land, water and air. The pipeline will cross 700 lakes and rivers before reaching the coast for shipment across the Pacific Ocean. The risks are unparalleled.
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